The Brew2bottle Blog

Enjoy the craft of home beer and wine making

  • Our Top 5 Summer Ale Kits

    Over the last week we’ve been counting down to bring you, what are, in our opinion, the Top 5 Summer Ale kits?

    It’s been tough for us to make decision on what we felt the number 1 should be and temper's have been frayed, but we got there in the end, so it's our pleasure to announce Festival Summer Glory in the number 1 spot, the second kit from Festival to make it into the Top 5.

    We’ve also included the rest of the Top 5, just in case you missed any of our previous posts.

    1. Festival Summer Glory
    festival-summer-glory-golden-aleA perfectly balanced light copper ale, at ABV 5%, with creamy 'off white' head. Made with Crystal and Cascade hops, with Elderflower additions, to give a wonderful, vibrant floral note with citrussy overtones and a bitter finish.

    This was originally a limited edition ale released as a one off; however, due to its popularity and the great feedback it received it has now become a permanent addition to the Festival range of beer kits.


    2. Woodforde’s Sundew
    Sundew is named after a carnivorous plant common in the boggy, fen-land areas of Norfolk, although we can honestly say that the name is where the similarity ends. This is a subtle, straw-coloured, refreshing summer ale, at ABV 4.2%, with discernible citrus notes on the nose and palate and the distinctive hoppy Woodforde’s trademark finish.

    One reviewer said this "Very easy drinking with notes of tropical fruits coming through. Four or five of these and the sun comes out all the same."

    3. Festival Golden Stag
    Number 3 in our Top 5 Summer Ales is Golden Stag from Festival, with Cascade & Columbus hops, it's bursting with a lively citrus hop taste and aroma, with a refreshing dryness, at ABV 4.5%

    4. St Peters Golden
    From the brewery at St Peter's Hall, near Bungay in Suffolk, which dates from around 1280.

    Brewery-developed beer-making kits have traditionally been very popular with home brew makers as it generates a great sense of satisfaction to be able to make a well-known beer at home, which is just as good as the pint bought down the pub. With this in mind, St Peter’s are working together with Muntons, the maltsters and beer kit makers, to develop their very own range of beer kits.

    Top quality malts and hops are used in this kit to create a light, distinctive, golden coloured ale at 4.7% ABV, with a fresh and delicate but 'grainy' after taste, a characteristic of beers brewed with Suffolk barley.

    We've had some great reviews from happy Brew2bottle customers who've brewed it; "A real beer for Pale Ale lovers", "8 weeks in the bottle and its tastes lovely" and "It's impressed those who have tried the samples" are a few of the comments that have been made.

    5. Muntons Midas Touch
    From the Muntons Hand Crafted range, a refreshing light pale ale of 5.0% ABV, with a rich golden colour and a distinctive hoppy taste. We like to call it a gentle invitation for lager drinkers to enter the flavoursome world of English style bitter.

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this blog, if you have any ideas of your own, as to what you might like to see in the list, let us know.


  • History, Culture & Beer - King's Lock Lager

    This is the 3rd and final post in our History and Culture series, (which is also about beer). Just for a quick re-cap we have a range of Brew2bottle's own recipe premium home-brew kits, dedicated to and inspired by our local history in Mid Cheshire.

    Have a look at our other posts in the series, Swing Bridge Bitter, and Salt Worker's Stout.

    King's Lock and the Wardle Canal

    In this article we'll focus on The Trent and Mersey Canal.

    The Kings Lock at Middlewich is where the Trent and Mersey is joined by the Wardle Canal, the smallest in England at a mere 150 feet long. This was built to ensure that the Trent and Mersey company had control of the junction with the rival Shropsire Union canal. 18th Century canal-war politics!

    North of Middlewich the Trent and Mersey heads through the Big Lock and in to the "Big Lock pound". The Big Lock pound is the old boatmen's name for this stretch of water (a pound being the water between two locks ie impounded) leaving the Big Lock in middlewich it signifies a chance to put away the windlass, leaving the work of the Cheshire locks behind you and enjoy the long lock-free pound for a good 15 miles all the way to the bridgewater canal.

    The Big Lock pound has had a torrid time due to flooding, subsidence and a massive breach in recent history. The pound crosses the River Dane on a steel aqueduct which is 9' wide, this is a replacement of the original aqueduct that was washed way by the river Dane in the 1930s, the original footings of the 2 arch aqueduct can still be seen in the bank and under the water.

    It also suffers from subsidence caused by wild brine pumping (check out our Salt Worker's Stout it's all their fault!) in the last 2 centuries this has led to most of the bridges on the pound being replaced with flat decks to allow them to be easily jacked up when the surrounding land subsides, and a diversionary course being put in place right in the heart of the Northwich salt-mining area at Marston.

    A big hole!

    A massive breach, due to a land-slip in 2012, put a rather large hole in the pound at Dutton, just north-west of Northwich, and sent 15 miles of canal water hurtling down the hillside and across the fields for a quarter of a mile into the River Weaver. It cost a cool £2.1m to repair, and the pound was non-navigable for the 9 months.


    So raise a glass of Brew2bottle King's Lock Lager to help drown the sorrows of the Trent and Mersey Boatman!

    Kings Lock Lager makes 40 pints (23 litres) of full-bodied golden lager, with an authentic Pilsner enzyme to produce a drier lager if you prefer something a little lighter and stronger.

    Some customer feedback for our King's Lock Lager kit:

    Really great pilsner, lovely flavour - highly recommended.5* - Stuart

    If you like pilzner lager this one will give you what you want. Pilzner sachet which is provided with this kit give really nice aroma and taste.5* - Marcin

  • Gorse Flower Wine Recipe

    We were recently lucky enough to have this recipe posted on our Brew2bottle Facebook page by The Hedgerow Alchemist, a page dedicated to the love of food & drink created from nature's bounty.

    Gorse flower wine

    "Any of you wine makers out there ever delve into the dark art of 'Spring Wine' making? Here is a recipe for gorse flower wine if you fancy giving it a shot? The flowers are out now and I'm sure that Brew2bottle have much of the rest that you'll require."


    *Note - Never pick anything if you're unsure of the identification.

    5 litres of gorse flowers (fill small fermentation bucket to the 5l mark)
    5 litres of water
    1.3kg of sugar
    0.5kg of raisins
    2 lemons
    Yeast & nutrient

    Bring 5 litres of water to the boil in a large stock pot
    Add the gorse flowers and simmer for 15 minutes
    Add the sugar, making sure it is completely dissolved
    Chop the raisins, grate the lemon zest & squeeze the lemon juice
    Add the raisins, zest & juice to the pot
    Mix thoroughly and transfer (very carefully) into your newly sterilized fermentation bucket
    Allow the contents to cool to 20-27*C
    Add the yeast/nutrient mix
    Store in a warm place (preferably above 20*C) for 4-6 days, stirring occasionally.
    Sieve the pulp from the liquor into a sterilized demijohn
    Add an airlock containing sterilizing solution
    Leave until fermentation has finished
    Rack off into a sterilized demijohn & leave for 2 months or until clear (If cloudy you can use finings as per manufacturers instructions)
    Bottle and leave for a minimum of 9 months

    ***Note - At every stage of the process ensure that you are using clean & sterilized equipment.


  • Homebrew Hamper Christmas Prize Draw


    Well here it is, the news we've been waiting to tell you, about our fantastic Christmas prize draw and how you could get your hands on our superb Brew2bottle Homebrew Hamper!

    The Homebrew Hamper, worth £50, has lots of useful things for the homebrewer including a 40 pint Better Brew Export Lager kit, a 6 bottle Beaverdale Rojo Tinto red wine kit, flavourings, a mulled wine spice mix, equipment, labels, and our special surprise Christmas gift from the Brew2bottle team.

    All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning this excellent hamper is to a subscriber to our ‘Drinkers Den’ newsletter.  So if you’re already signed up, you’re already in and if you’re not you need to, by signing up here >>>

    You can improve your chance of winning by liking and sharing the posts on social media, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, giving you one extra go in the prize draw, which we’ll announce on Saturday 20th December, for each one.

    Full list of hamper items

    • Better Brew Export Lager (ABV 4.6%) 40 pint Beer Kit
    • Country House Mulled red wine spice
    • Beaverdale Rojo Tinto Red Wine Kit, 6 bottle
    • Icon liqueurs Amaretto flavour
    • Icon liqueurs Arancello flavour
    • Better Brew wine thief (Pipette)
    • Pack of 30 Shrink Caps - Black Shadow
    • Better Brew Stick on LCD Thermometer
    • 18 Brewers stirring Paddle
    • Syphon Tap
    • Steriliser
    • Wine labels

    Plus some extra nice surprises...

    * Brew2bottle corporate colour tinsel not included

  • History, Culture & Beer - Swing Bridge Bitter

    Following on from our recent article about Salt Workers Stout, this blog also provides the history behind another of our Brew2bottle beer kits, Swing Bridge Bitter, which also derives its name from the heritage of Mid-Cheshire.

    b2b_swing_bridge_bitterThe River Weaver was canalised in the 18th Century, linking Northwich and Winsford with the sea in order to improve the transport of salt. Prior to that, salt was moved by road to the nearest navigable part of the river in Frodsham. To begin with, sailing flats were used to move the salt, although they weren't sailed when on the river, but hauled by men on the banks. After a towpath was constructed, horses replaced the men. Once steam barges came into use, more headroom was needed beneath the road bridges, so these were replaced by bridges which swung to one side to allow the boats to pass.

    Northwich boasts not only the first electrically powered swing bridge in Great Britain, but also the second. Hayhurst Bridge and Town Bridge (pictured), are both built over the River Weaver on floating pontoons to counteract mine subsidence. Designed in 1898 by Colonel John Saner, the Hayhurst Town Swing Bridge Northwich Bridge was named after the France-Hayhurst family of Bostock Hall and was treated to a £4.1m refurbishment in 2002, reopening on 3 November 2004 – exactly 106 years to the day of its first opening. A little further down the river, near the Bullring, Town Bridge was constructed in 1899 again by Colonel John Saner, who was also responsible for the radical redesign of Anderton Boat Lift in 1908.

    The three other swing bridges in the area are at Acton Bridge, Winnington and Sutton Weaver. The Sutton Weaver swing bridge, constructed in 1926, carries an estimated 90,000 vehicles per day and is currently undergoing a £4.5m upgrade.

    So raise a glass of Brew2bottle Swing Bridge Bitter to Colnel John Saner and the bridges of Northwich.


    P.S. Have a look at our other posts in the series, King's Lock Larger, and Salt Worker's Stout.

  • History, Culture & Beer - Salt Workers Stout

    For the benefit of our nationwide readers, we thought we'd just share you a little of the history behind our own Brew2bottle beer kits. Many of the towns in Mid-Cheshire have heritage rooted in the local salt industry and we like to reflect that history in our own products.

    salt worksCheshire is sited on top of a vast deposit of salt, laid down in the Triassic age over 230 million years ago. Northwich supplies much of the UK's salt, which is mainly used in the chemical industry whilst over 50% of the white salt for the UK food industry is produced in Middlewich. Britain’s oldest working mine at Winsford was opened in 1844 and most of Britain's roads are treated with rocksalt from here. Places at which the salt was mined, often have names ending in ‘wich’, such as Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich.

    In the Roman town of Condate, now known as Northwich, salt was extracted from springs of natural brine by boiling in lead salt pans and this process carried on a small way right up until the 17th Century. It was in 1670 that employees of the Smith-Barry family from Marbury Hall discovered the underground salt beds whilst searching for coal and thereby created the modern salt industry.

    In the early days, simple pits were dug to extract the rock which was dissolved in water to make brine and separate out the salt by boiling. When it later became uneconomic to mine salt physically, the technique of pumping water through the bedrock to dissolve the salt and evaporating the water off at the surface (known as brine pumping) was used. Unfortunately, this created underground voids which led to land subsidence. This accounts for the many old timber-framed houses in mid Cheshire, which were better able to withstand the movement of the ground and could be jacked up to level the building, or even moved to stable ground.

    So raise a glass of Brew2bottle Salt Workers Stout, and salute the efforts of the the miners and brine-pumpers who put condiments on your table, and keep your roads ice-free in winter!


    P.S. Have a look at our other posts in the series, King's Lock Larger, and Swing Bridge Bitter.

  • It's an absolute giveaway!!

    dasher_crestEach month from now until December we are giving one lucky person the chance to win one of our fantastic beer kits, with this month being one of our featured beers of the month, Milestone's Dasher the Flasher.

    All that needs to be done, to be in with a chance of winning this excellent kit, is to be a subscriber to our 'Drinkers Den' newsletter.

    At the end of each month we'll pick a name at random from our mailing list and announce it across our social media sites. There will be a special giveaway in December of a Brew2bottle homebrew hamper, so remember to keep checking on our social media posts for further details.

    If you're already a subscriber to the 'Drinkers Den', do something nice for a friend and introduce them to the the Brew2Bottle newsletter and to the wonderful world of homebrewing, by signing them up or sending them the following link >>> HERE <<<

    Good luck!

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